Thoughts on the Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

The Final Word On The Matter

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a big sloppy suckjob party of assholes slobbering each other’s cocks while patting each other on the back. Eric Clapton is a real big deal at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; he’s been inducted three or four times and that should tell you everything you need to know.

Important Rock Writers bitch every year about who’s getting in this, and gender equality in the Hall that, or rockism vs. popism; the Hall is just some rich white baby boomer asshole’s record collection with a snack bar and a gift shop and an annual party, so you get what was on the package.

At least they built it in Cleveland so no one would ever have to see it.

The nominees in no particular order:

Nine Inch Nails  which is just Trent Reznor, really. A lot of bands are only one guy, but they’re not as upfront about it as Trent. He Henry Rollins-ed in the past few years and is now thickly muscled and that look does not work in my rock and roll. If you have a giant bodybuilder neck, I do not wish for you to rock me. I get distracted and start wondering if there’s a machine in the gym just for the neck, and then what kind of person thinks their neck is too puny and uses the machine and by this time, I am unrockable.

Nine Inch Nails made some good, aggressive music; the logo was also very good. He can be in the Hall of Fame.

Chic is another band that’s just one guy, except the one guy was actually two guys, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. They did Le Freak and Good Times. (Not the theme song; theirs goes “These…are…the..good TIMES!” over and over. The theme song to the sitcom is a far better and catchier tune.)

Chic brings up a problem that will arise a number of times more in this list: what if the act wasn’t technically a rock and roll act? Chic played dance music, not rock and roll. Is Frankie Knuckles in the Hall? Kraftwerk? No?

Then Chic can’t be.

N.W.A.  is also not rock and roll, unless you want to have that argument about the spirit of rock or some twiddle and fiddle: I won’t have it. You can say that rap evolved from rock, which is true, but humans evolved from single-celled bacteria and it is against the law to make love to algae. Things turn into different thing, and then the things are not the things they were.

On the other hand, I like it when people yell “Fuck the police” at the top of their lungs in crowded areas, so N.W.A. can go in. Also, the group inspired a classic comedy called Fear of a Black Hat, which is to rap what Spinal Tap was to rock.

On the other other hand, they only put out one good record. N.W.A. were the black New York Dolls: discuss.

The Smiths are the opposite of N.W.A. in almost every way. Just about every cultural signifier each employed was the diametric opposite of the other. Eazy-E did not tell you about his feelings, unless his feeling was “I want to put my dick in your mouth.” Then, he would let you know his feelings. Both also wore black on the outside to show how they felt on the inside.

Putting aside Morrissey and his tweedy longings, The Smiths didn’t have any good songs. How Soon Is Now has that great bit (BWOW-wowwww) but Johnny Marr just repeats it a million times for seven minutes. Plus, Johnny Marr played a Rickenbacker and TotD has a Standing Pass on all offers of being rocked by a dude with a Rickenbacker.

Also, their name is imperialist: no Hall for The Smiths

Deep Purple went Space Truckin’ to hump their Woman From Tokyo and are you kidding me with Deep Purple, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? It is 2015 and there is water on Mars and the internet: we are in the very beginning part of the future. Let’s not bring Deep Purple with us.

Deep Purple didn’t even give a shit about Deep Purple: they let David Coverdale in the band twice. How can I be expected to care if they won’t? Nope, Purple.

Janet Jackson is going to get in and here’s where people will try to have a rockism vs. popism debate and OMIGOD shut the fuck up: the woman has an album coming out and Clive Davis is still alive, so she will be in the Hall this year.


Steve Miller should be in the Hall for two reasons: 1, anyone who annoyed Miles Davis so badly that Miles felt the need to mention it in his book two decades later is okay by me; and 2, in the 1980’s, if you dug a hole and planted a copy of Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits, a roller skating rink would grow overnight.

The fucker was everywhere and deservedly so: he wrote and recorded a dozen or so undeniably great rock songs. Steve Miller also had the prescience (or maybe there was just no more money) to not re-record Living in the USA with someone who actually knew how to play the drums.

Chicago was a killer horn band with a great guitarist who shot himself. Then, their bassist dueted with Cher for a while. Fuck off, Chicago: both the Average White Band and the Tower of Power did your shtick better.

Chaka Khan, let me rock you, let me rock you Chaka Khan. It is literally all I want to do, Chaka Khan. Why?

Because I feel for you. Not enough to let you into the Hall of Fame, though. The people at Chaka Khan’s regular bar and/or church should hold Chaka Khan in esteem, but Hall of Fame? Pshaw. Such and august and respected institution? The woman had dancing of the “Break” variety in her video!

That’s it: tear down the community center.

The Spinners sang this:

And this:

So they can be in the Hall of Fame.

Cheap Trick should be in the Hall, but they should also be much more famous and Robin Zander should get the recognition of, say, Steven Tyler or Paul Stanley. But they’re not, and he doesn’t. I think the industry likes them, so maybe they’ll get in; they’re the only ones I have any connection to.

The Trick’s (I call them that) first four records (plus the live Budokan album) are some fine rock and roll. They are solid albums with a huge bottom end and great guitars and lyrics that almost kinda make sense. (Except for Dream Police: it sounds noticeably shittier than the first three studio albums, which were recorded by Ted Templeman, the same guy who got Van Halen their sound, which if you go back and listen was the exact same sound as Cheap Trick.

They had a bunch of hit songs, and a long fallow period in the 80’s, then a comeback in the 90’s: they should be regarded like Aerosmith now, but they’ve been a little forgotten. Poor Cheap Trick: I still want you.

The Cars have my vote because one day in college, I was walking towards the Public Gardens on Commonwealth. It was the first day of the year you needed a coat, but Ric Ocasek seemed happy in his leopard-print robe, slippers. He was drinking coffee and there was no one else on the street.

I nodded at him and he raised his coffee cup an inch (“Yes, yes: we both know who I am and let’s not make a thing about it.”) and therefore The Cars should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The J.B.’s were the answer to the old show biz riddle, “What happens when you ask James Brown for a raise?”

The Godfather’s backup band had, in 1970, the temerity to ask for more money. James Brown went in the other room, hopped out the first-floor window, got on the bus with Bobby Byrd, and a new band waiting for him at the next gig: these would be The Pacemakers out of Cincinnati and the Brothers Collins, Bootsy and Catfish, were part of that band. They would join ringers like Jabo Starks and Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley.

All of them tire of James Brown’s bullshit very quickly and went across the street to P-Funk, where George Clinton was just as full of shit, but much more chills shit. It was bullshit you could put up with, whereas James issued fines for missing cues and sometimes beat the horn section with his sweat-drenched penny loafers for no reason at all.

But for the few years in the beginning of the 70’s, these guys–backing up James Brown–were in the race for Best EVAR whenever they played, especially in April ’71 when they destroyed Paris for a show thankfully recorded and filmed.

Los Lobos Get the fuck out of here with that Los Lobos crap.

Yes No. At least when the Dead played a song for 25 minutes, they had the excuse of not meaning to. They planned to play it for ten or twelve minutes and shit got squirrely and things ran long.

Yes, however, drove to the gig that night fully intending to play twenty-minute songs at people and for this they should not get into the Hall.

Counter: bassist Chris Squire (who does play the dreaded Rick) is a motherfucker, as is Bill Buford. Their album covers were–and still are–good to roll joints on. Their lead singer, while being a dreadful singer, is a hilariously un-self aware man; I always give points for delusional humans.

Also, original keyboardist Rick Wakeman once wrote a rock opera about King Arthur and staged it on ice. There were skaters lutzing here and axeling there, and they were in costume. But you can’t get horses on ice. (Willingly: big enough cattle prod and you can get anything anywhere.) So the skaters were in knight costumes, but they were all wearing horses. The thing where the cardboard horse goes around you, and it’s held up by suspenders? Those skaters had had childhood dreams of the Olympics and now they were doing salchows with fake horsies tied to them while a pothead played fourteen synthesizers at once.

In final analysis, it will be Regretful Pass for Yes; much like Chloe Sevigny, Vincent Gallo was the final straw.

For those of you whining about how this has not been about the Grateful Dead, I present this GIF of Bobby having a day of beauty at Big-Dicked Sheila’s.

Monkey Bob Weir ( )

Thoughts On Canadian Thanksgiving Without Research

  • Absolutely not.
  • No.
  • First off, I don’t think it’s a thing and if it is a thing, I’m gonna unmake this thing.
  • The ban on research is total, but I will allow myself this: I’m gonna ask Siri and then I can look at whatever she pulls up.
  • I will not, however, click through to any pages
  • Here I go.
  • Fuck my balls and call me Cathy, you syrupdicks stole our holiday.
  • How could you do this to America?
  • There are no tighter bros than America and Canada.
  • We make Trinidad and Tobago look like acquaintances, man.
  • And you do this.
  • You didn’t even have the common courtesy to rename it: you were brazen in your theft.
  • Make something up, at least: Gratitude Day.
  • Do like the Wookiees and have Life Day.
  • But don’t just go slapping a “Canadian” in front and claim that shit with a straight-face.
  • Guy with a fast computer in his basement could turn Captain America in The Avengers into Captain Canada pretty easy, and it would be amusing, but no one would be fooled.
  • No one is fooled by this, either, Canada.
  • Thanksgiving commemorates the time when Americans and Indians shared a meal without a fight or a broken treaty breaking out.
  • People of color and white people had one pleasant meal and it’s been celebrated for 400 years.
  • Which one shouldn’t think about too long.
  • There was cranberry and turkey and greenbeans and pumpkin pie.
  • There was no poutine.
  • Stop this, Canada.
  • Stop it right now.
  • ¿Se puede volver Cinco de Mayo a nosotros, por favor?
  • Shut up, Mexico.

Current Fashions Set The Pace

Billy was banished from Front Street and the toaster was sent back to the kitchen, where he pouted and burned bagels out of spite. The clothes were coming along, though.

Mickey had to be barred as well, when it was revealed that he was stealing more shirts than the tailors were pumping out, which seems mathematically impossible until you realize that it is. Mickey was stealing so many Dead shirts that he had progressed to stealing the raw materials for Dead shirts and then just hired some goon and paid off the sheriff and taken over a cotton farm in Mississippi. At this point, Mickey realized he had no idea how a cotton farm was run, but he had seen movies on how cotton plantations were run and it ended poorly and with many people being sent to the Problem Attic.

Bobby knew many things: how to do sick wheelies on his BMX, and he could play guitar and sing, but the only thing he knew about the business side of fashion was that it seemed like a Jewish job.

Nevertheless, Bobby set out to educate himself. He would have gone to the library, but I forgot to create any.

“Jer, were you aware of this?”

“The no-library thing?”


“First I’m hearing of it.”

“Doesn’t seem right.”

“There are bookstores.”

“Sure, there’s Barnes & Patterson’s.”

“The place that only sells James Patterson books, sure.”

“And across the street is Fuck Patterson’s.”

“The place that sells everything but James Patterson books, yeah.”

“What about Dollar or Centipede?”

“The place where every book you buy has a dollar in it? Or a live centipede?”

“That’s the one.”

“And the place with all the Nazi books: what’s that one called?”

“Nazi Book Place.”


“Good coffee, though.”

“And no centipedes.”


“Who’s talking?”

“No idea. Jackass?”

Am I the one being referred to in such a manner?

“Did you forget to make libraries?”




Stop this. Do not rebel against me. It is forbidden.

“You going anywhere with the fashion story?”

Big show in New York.

“Do you have anything besides fashionista jokes?”


“Is it Billy calling Andre Leon Talley ‘Branford?'”


“What I’m hearing is that we’re done here.”

“Gonna get a beer and a beej.”

“Ooh, beer and beej.”


“I’m still here.”

Oh, fuck off, Brent.

A Fox In The Crowd

Front Street is buzzing. Bobby was true to his word and has manned the hastily-shoplifted sewing machines with Deadheads of all kinds: boys and girls, tall and short, white and maybe a half-Asian chick? Rebecca over there? Talking to Austin? She is, like, half-Asian? I think? I do not know which Asian, but she is awesome.

It is the best here? Bobby is, like, he is just, I mean he is just. So. Bobby. Right? Like: you think he’s gonna be Bobby? And he’s like: Bobby.

We are making jean shorts today? Or, like, we were totally supposed to and I woke up this morning and was all, “Jean shorts,” and then we come in? And we start on them. We totally start on them. But then Billy and the toaster walk in–

They made up. They’re friends again. Beef: squashed. Squash that shit. Mad tight. So anyway: Billy? And the toaster? They had beer and coke and they ordered pizza? And they totally put acid on the pizza?

But I don’t give a FUCK; I’m fuckin’ HARDCORE and I eat it?


And soon everyone’s like “WOOOOoooooOOOOooooo” and shit is getting MAD FUCKED UP. Dudes are sewing their dicks together and there was, like, maybe time travel? It’s a fucking PARTY, yo, and Billy is porking and the toaster had sex with Mr. Garcia’s briefcase?

So we didn’t get SHIT done today.

Excuse me? What the fuck was all this?

Led by Bobby, the Dead ventured into the fashion world, which necessitated turning Front Street into a sweatshop.

I got all that.

This was one of the stories of one of the stone-cold teen foxes who worked there. Don’t silence her.

Not trying to do that. Just wondering if you realized you veered into her story in the middle of a sentence.

Muse does what she will.

You realize how pretentious you sound?

The girl’s name was Muse.

Well played.

Throw Me In The Fashion House

Bobby called a meeting in 1981 to discuss creating a pret-a-porter line.

“Guys, thanks for coming to this meeting: it’s 1981, and I think we should create a pret-a-porter line.”

The rest of the Dead agreed, and disagreed, and ignored him, and smiled politely and wore his name tag so no one called him Keith. Phil was against clothing the masses in principle, unless they were very flabby or old, in which case Phil advocated clothing the shit out of them.

Garcia was wary that this would eat away at the prestige of the haute line: it was by design that the Dead’s fashion wasn’t for everyone. Also, Garcia sensed this was more work.

“Sure, Big Guy–”

“Don’t call me that.”

“–the Enthusiasts have loved our style, but now it’s time to bring it to department stores and Woolworth’s and Orange Julius and wherever else normal people buy their clothes; I don’t really know where, if we’re honest.”

“When you say clothes,” Mickey asked, “did you mean shirts? Specifically, shirts of the ‘T’ variety?”

“Sure, yeah.”

“Would said shirts have Dead bullshit on them?”

“All over.”

“And would said shirts with Dead bullshit all over them be left unattended for any amount of time?”

“Most likely.”

“I’m in.”

Billy was in the kitchen pointing a pistol at the toaster; he was not materially involved in the discussion.

Bobby pulled out a sketchbook and showed Garcia some of his drawings: he could do a helicopter really well, and a neat Austrian village covered in snow; there were also many detailed drawings of dicks. Then Garcia told Bobby to stop screwing around and Bobby got the sketchbook with the fashion stuff in it.

And then, because it was 1981, Bobby made some calls to shady dudes who chiseled some money out of a bank, or filched some small town’s budget for the year. Nowadays, the Dead could just call the bank directly for the money, but back then serious adults had to pretend to be above this sort of thing.

“Guys, we have the money; we have the talent; we have a simply enormous list of Deadheads who know how to sew and will work for free or sex: let’s make us some fashion.”



“It was him or me, man.”


High Fashion


“I never was into the Grateful Dead, never was about it. I went to school in Wisconsin, and it was a bunch of hippies — I was just into the logo. Funny story, I wanted to bootleg it. Just in passing, I was talking to my lawyer, and I was like, ‘What would happen if I did?’ He said: ‘Actually, we work with Warner, who owns the license for it. You should just let me call them.’ ”

The quote is from the up-and-coming designer Virgil Abloh, who also works as Kanye West’s creative director. Mr. Abloh collaborated with the artist Othelo Gervacio to create the shirt seen above; it took two people to do that.

Here are some of the other looks from Mr. Abloh’s premiere show for his Off-White label.

Photo Three looks from Virgil
When asked why he chose asymmetry for his clothing, Mr, Abloh responded, “How else will people know how expensive it is?”

If On A Tuesday

There might be no show biz trick more primal, more bankable, or more affordable than coming out in matching outfits.

There may, however, be no act more Grateful Dead than Phil fucking the whole thing up with a vest he stole from a lesbian bookstore owner. (That phrase was ambiguous, so allow me to explain: both the human and the bookstore are lesbian in nature. Lesbian in a vest sitting behind the counter of a bookstore that caters to lesbians. There are absolutely no dicks in this equation.)

Unbox Of Rain

I don’t know if I can write any more.

Finally admitting you’ve exhausted the topic?

Oh, no: this dead horse can be kicked for a good deal longer. I was talking about the music.


The 30 Trips sampler. It goes chronologically, one song per year.

What’s the problem?

This is not how the Grateful Dead goes. The Dead goes “little song, little song, loud song, Scarlet>Fire, drummers do stuff, long bunch of bullshit, US Blues.”

Take this as an opportunity to relisten to the songs in a different context.

I don’t want to. I want the thing I like to be the way I like it.

Would it make you happy to watch a mustache with a guy attached do one of those “unpacking” videos for the box set?

Personally, I’m ambivalent, but maybe someone else might.

Okay, champ.

Look For A Sign

Reports about the box set are flooding in and the news is that a small number of Enthusiasts will have a “golden ticket” that wins them a gold record. Like, an actual gold record from the Dead? A replica like those plastic batting helmets popular in the 80’s? I don’t know: there is a contest and the winner will receive “a personalized Grateful Dead 30 Trips RIAA-certified Gold Record plaque”.

What does that mean?

No idea. A geegaw of some sort.


Gold. So, yeah.

Y’know what would’ve been better?


If they did it like at hockey games. A few box sets would have Phil’s signature and if you got one of those, you got a shot on goal from center ice, but there was a plexiglass shielld over it that left a tiny little opening


The contest has different names regionally, I believe.

The New Jersey Devils called it Score-O. Where would you even do this?

Sharks game?

And what would be the prize?

For guys: dinner at Phil’s place, half-off excluding drinks and dessert.

What if a woman wins?

Billy sticks it in her for a few minutes.

We’re done.

Amplest Sampler

The 30 Trips box sets are arriving at Enthusiasts’ homes, and I’m sure it will be available illicitly soon, but the Dead may have hit on a preventative measure against piracy: spread the thing out over 80 discs. Just the physical act of putting the things in the computer, and taking them out, and putting them back, and getting a new one, and writing things down: this is exhausting to write about, I cannot believe someone would actually do such a thing. Cheers to you, internet pirate.

I feel that there’s some cover–morally–in the fact that the box set sold out (as did the recently announced Dave’s Pick 16 in, like, 24 hours) and it could even be argued that had I wanted to purchase one, I would have been unable to. They would not take my money, it could be argued. That is obviously a terrible argument (I knew the box set was available for purchase) and a lie (torrenting it was the plan all along.)

There will be discussion of the highs (’68) and lows (one of the shows from the 90’s I will not be listening to ever) in the box, but until it comes onto the torrent sites, I’ll be spending the evening with the sampler, 30 Trips Around The Sun – The Definitive Live Story, which is not sold out and is available wherever fine leather goods are sold.

So: if you have money, and enjoy the Grateful Dead, and don’t freak out when the wrong songs follow each other, go buy one of these suckers.


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